Duane Moore: Korean War veteran’s journey helped him become one of WKBT’s pioneers

Moore experiences Freedom Honor Flight, reflects on Korean War and his time at WKBT

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — In life, people strive to find a purpose and leave their community a better place than they found it. A Korean War veteran has a special connection to WKBT. The dangers of war helped him become one of WKBT’s pioneers.

“I knew I wanted to get into radio,” said Duane Moore, one of La Crosse’s first TV broadcasters, who says he always knew what he wanted to do

“Channel 8 was the only show in town when I worked here,” Moore said.

Moore worked in broadcast during its birth in La Crosse.

“In those days, there was no competition,” Moore said. “There was no videotape.”

Moore started with WKBH radio before joining the forces of western Wisconsin’s first TV station.

“Channel 8 owned one camera,” Moore said. “And the boss was too tight to buy another one.”

WKBT signed on the air in 1954.

“Sixty-seven thousand people watched the 10 o’clock weather.”

Moore kicked off La Crosse first weather forecast. His journey began 6,000 miles away. Moore fought in the Korean War in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Duane Moore

“I was told that you don’t ever want to be a forward observer,” said Moore, who stood in one of the most vulnerable positions.

“The average life expectancy of a forward observer was 15 minutes,” he said.

Moore would serve his country as an FO for 15 days.

“I spent 15 days up there and never got a scratch,” Moore said.

Moore’s time on the front lines earned him points so he could come home early.

“Everybody wants to go home,” Moore said.

That’s where WKBT comes into frame.

“See, we were NBC, DuMont and CBS,” Moore said.

Half a century later, Moore traveled to Washington, D.C., on Freedom Honor Flight Saturday to relive these moments. He is one of 97 veterans from the area who spent the day in Washington courtesy of Freedom Honor Flight.

Duane Moore

“It’s sort of unique, I think,” Moore said.

Moore served on the front lines of war so he could lead the beginning of what WKBT has become today.

Moore understood his purpose and not saw only the Korean War history but also but also lived it.

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